HC Deb 09 April 2003 vol 403 cc262-3W
Mr. Davidson

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will estimate(a) the number of people who would benefit from a rise in the national minimum wage to £6 per hour, (b) how much Government expenditure would be saved by the consequential reduction of means tested benefits and (c) what the economic consequences would be of such a rise, with a statement of how she arrived at her estimate; and if she will make a statement. [105105]

Alan Johnson

The information is as follows:

(a) DTI estimates that around six million people would be directly affected by an increase in the National Minimum Wage (NMW) to £6. The balance between workers who would benefit and those who would not benefit would depend on the extent of employment reductions following such a large increase.

(b) The impact of an increase in the NMW was estimated by the Government and provided in the Low Pay Commission's fourth report (table 6.5, p195). The effect of a 30 pence increase in the adult rate of the NMW in 2003–04 is estimated to provide net savings to the Exchequer of £260 million for a full year. The effect on the Exchequer of a £6 per hour NMW rate for adults cannot be estimated in this way because the assumption of no behavioural change in response to the change in the NMW rates which underlies the estimate would not be plausible.

(c) A 6 NMW would see over one-fifth of the UK workforce receiving wage increases of up to 43 per cent., without any offsetting gains in output. That is likely to sap company profitability, add significantly to price pressures and prompt employers to cut employment levels.

The Government are determined to help the low paid, but not at the cost of damaging the economy or creating increased unemployment for the very people we want to help. Following advice from the Low Pay Commission, we recently announced substantial increases to the minimum wage to take place in October 2003 which will help between 1.3 and 1.6 million low-paid workers, more than ever before.

Mr. Willis

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how many(a) adults and (b) employers were on the adult development rate of the national minimum wage in (i) 2001, (ii) 2002 and (iii) 2003; [106659]

(2) what the guidelines are for the operation of the adult development rate of the national minimum wage; [106658]

(3) what the guidelines are for payment of the national minimum wage. [106657]

Alan Johnson

Around 60,000 adults were eligible for the older workers' Development Rate in both 2001 and 2002, according to data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS). There are no LFS figures for 2003 available yet.

Use of the older workers' Development Rate remains small. According to a survey of employers in low-paying sectors by the Low Pay Commission, 4 per cent. Of employers said they used it. This is likely to be an overestimate of the use of the Development Rate among employers in the economy as a whole. However, the Commission recommended in their recent report that, on balance, they thought the older workers' Development Rate should remain in place for the time being.

Guidelines on the operation of the minimum wage are contained in the booklet, "A Detailed Guide to the National Minimum Wage", which is available from the Inland Revenue's National Minimum Wage helpline 0845–6000–678, and is also available on the Department of Trade and Industry's website at: www.dti.gov.uk/er/nmw. I will send the hon. Member a copy.

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